One part travel blog. One part nerdy history lesson.

48 hours in Cincinnati,Ohio

This short trip was a two hour drive to Cincinnati to see what kind of fun we could find. We have been to Cincinnati many times before…Kegan’s dad and stepmother even live on the north side so this wasn’t unknown territory. We have been to King’s Island (a very good amusement park) a few times. (Planning to take Norah for the first time in April) and we have been to the Cincinnati Zoo last year when a friend from Florida visited the area. But we hadn’t really spent time downtown and we were able to find plenty to see and do for the weekend.

We grabbed Norah right after school and immediately hit the road headed to the Newport Aquarium.

The aquarium was a really good one- and almost completely empty by 5:30pm when we arrived. Normally this time of year they close at 5, so I guess we got lucky that they were open until 7pm, but it seems no one else seemed to know! Ha

They had a tank with starfish and anemone you would reach in and touch. Both had a very strange texture.
A sting ray tank where you could touch.
My favorite- the penguins! They do penguin meet and greets but only midday so we just sat and watched them for a few minutes. They were getting ready for bed haha most were against the walls waiting on the lights to shut off!
I loved this cutaway because I didn’t know what turtle nests looked like under the sand… it was really eye opening
This beautiful fish kept posing for me at the glass, it was hilarious ha
They had cleaner shrimp in a tank that were extra lively. Norah really loved the “manicure” so much so that she made us backtrack through the whole aquarium at the end to do it again haha
After leaving the aquarium, we got a view of the Cincinnati skyline from across the river at Newport on the Levee

Now, it was time to go a couple miles to pick up what I will refer to as Stupid Purchase #1 (because there were multiple this weekend haha)

One of my hobbies is checking Facebook Marketplace for things I just can’t live without. Especially while traveling. Well on the drive over, I changed my area to Covington, KY just to surf and see what people had for sale over there. One of the first things that popped up was this vertical planter that a lady had listed for $40. Looking at it, it was big and it looked like a self watering hydroponic setup…definitely something I had been searching for and looking for options. But $40 was just silly low…surely not. So I messaged and asked her questions, in chatting learned she was relocating to the US Virgin Islands- I just finished a contract for the hospital in the US Virgin Islands, so we discussed the area and in the end she told me I could pick it up after the aquarium.

We arrived and it’s covered in leaves and some frozen bees and lots and lots of sloshing water. There’s a toilet leaning against it but it is exactly what I thought… so we HAVE to clean it up and get it in the SUV! Haha that itself was comical as it was 7 feet tall so we spent the whole weekend driving around with this planter above our heads! Lol

We drove to Ft Mitchell to a pizza spot but it was jammed packed with an hour wait so-backup plan: when in Cincinnati, eat Skyline Chili!

Skyline was founded in Cincinnati in 1949 by a Greek immigrant, but the story of “Cincinnati chili” goes back 100 years to a couple Macedonian/Northern Greek brothers that took the typical coney dog topping chili, mixed it with a Mediterranean stew spiced with nutmeg, clove and cinnamon but instead of limiting to hotdogs, they added it to spaghetti…and the Germans in the city couldn’t get enough of it. Gold Star, Empress, Dixie Chili, Skyline… you have plenty of options in this city. And admittedly, I do crave Cheese Coneys when I haven’t had them in a while.

Norah is a fan of the cheese ha

After skyline, we headed to The WEB- an arcade/mini golf/indoor go kart/Laser tag/VR combo spot. We only had a couple hours until they closed so it cost us a whole $10/person (plus arcade game tokens) for an unlimited band. Ha

Norah was pumped to drive her own go kart
They had a 9 3/4 black light Harry Potter themed mini-golf

We shut the place down trying to use our credits before 11pm and they shut the machines off at 10:50! Jerks 🙂 norah used her credits to pick out some little junk prizes and we headed to our hotel. Again, hotel was nothing special- a Holiday Inn downtown using points I had.

Saturday morning we got moving for a walk downtown to Wild Eggs again since Cincinnati had one, too. We’ll leave Wild Eggs to Louisville- the Cincy one wasn’t nearly as good, but it was still a good breakfast

Norah got a hot chocolate
I got a Nutty Irishman boozy coffee with a little “extra special” according to the waitress.
Strawberry pancakes
I got the Steak Benny- a New York strip on eggs Benedict
Kegan got the same Kalamity Katie’s Border Benedict. He said the corn cakes were too good to pass up

After breakfast we explored some more blocks downtown and headed towards the waterfront

We walked past the international headquarters of Proctor and Gamble- a company started in and still based in Cincinnati.
Passed the Great American Ballpark- home of the Cincinnati Reds baseball – caught this photo looking into “the gap” – I didn’t get any photos but there are also 2 tall smokestacks that emit fire when the pitcher strikes out a runner and fireworks after a home run or win.
Pete Rose statue in front of the Spirit of Baseball Indiana limestone relief. For anyone that follows baseball at all, Pete Rose needs no introduction- nicknamed “Charlie Hustle”, he’s the all time leading MLB hitter, at-bats, games played, singles, and outs and played for the Reds from 1963-1978. Although he’s actually most famous for the fact that he isn’t in the baseball hall of fame due to his betting on games while he was a player and manager.
The John A Roebling Suspension bridge, was the longest suspension bridge in the world when it was built- until Roebling finished his next bridge project: The Brooklyn Bridge. Roebling died before the Brooklyn bridge was ever built, after crushing his toes between a dock and a ferry led to amputation and then tetanus. His son took over that project but in the end, it is believed his wife actually managed the project to completion.

Down at the waterfront, there is a great monument to the Black Brigade of Cincinnati- the first black military unit in the civil war. When the Confederacy was closing in on Cincinnati, a group of black men offered to volunteer to help fortify the city against attack. They were ignored…but then the mayor decided they should go round up all the black men and forcibly make them work. When the top general learned this, he ordered all of the black men (around 400) be allowed to return home…but that if they chose to volunteer, to come back to report the next day. Over 750 black men showed up to volunteer. Eventually they were paid and even led by black officers. The cleared hundreds of acres of forest, rifle pits, forts and are credited with completing the fortifications that saved the city in an 1862 attack.

The black brigade presented an engraved sword to one of the top officers
Norah, being Norah at the Marion Spencer statue. She was a civil rights activist who led desegregation efforts in Cincinnati schools, and she was a cofounder of the national Underground Railroad center
We found a great photo op at the Sing the Queen City sign. Cincinnati has had the nickname of The Queen City since the 1800s when residents referred to it as the Queen of the West, as it was last civilized stop on the way west.

Lots of great deco architecture everywhere downtown

About this time I remembered that I booked our next item for an exact time. Whoops. We had 20 minutes to drive out to the Cincinnati Museum Complex, park and get inside to the OMNIMAX theater. We made it, 1 minute late, but before they started the show!

Union Terminal is an AMAZING art deco train station that opened in 1933 and was planned to hold 17,000 passengers a day and over 200 trains daily. It is the largest half-dome in the western hemisphere and just an awesome building.

106 ft tall rotunda
A 218 million dollar renovation in 2018 brought back so much original luster. Walking through made you feel like you were headed to a train in 1940.
The rotunda has giant mosaic murals of industrial subjects by German immigrant artist Winold Reiss

Our OMNIMAX film was called Dinosaurs of Antarctica and it was super interesting to learn about how Antarctica was once a lush jungle setting housing tons of early dinosaur species prior to the T Rex Jurassic age.

The first museum we visited was Natural History Museum
The biggest trilobite we have ever seen! Found in Ohio!
I loved this fossil. The detail you could see in this full crinoid was just amazing.
In the back of the lab we could see a triceratops skull they are just starting to remove from its field jacket
They have a whole wing of the museum dedicated to space and exploration
An interactive computer console where you could remotely control a Mars rover
An interactive exhibit trying to explain the curvature of space time.

Next we visited the City History Museum- which was a bit disappointing. There were a few stations talking about the history of the city but mostly it was just a wing dedicated to housing this giant train set that was a replica of the city from the 1920s

Next up was the Holocaust Museum which just opened in 2019. It was a really good museum but I didn’t take any pictures, I guess. Although not really the subject matter to photograph. I highly recommend it.

They had an “ask a survivor” interactive exhibit. You could literally ask any question and the recorded person would answer. Norah said it felt very awkward to be asking personal questions like “what happened to your family?” Because it felt like a real person.

Next we visited the Rookwood Ice Cream Parlor. A shop completely covered in Rookwood pottery serving Graeter’s ice cream- a Cincinnati original since 1870, even declared by Oprah as the best ice cream she had ever tasted.

After chilling with some ice cream, we were offered a tour of the building by a guy who saw us just standing around staring at all of the details- he said it went to some areas not open to the public and lasted about an hour… but we only had two hours until closing and Norah hadn’t been to the Children’s museum yet… so she voted to skip the tour and we reluctantly agreed because we knew she really wanted to go play. Parenting requires sacrifices ha

Overall it was a small museum, mostly a big playground with some other interactive stations and crafts.

Norah enjoyed the big play restaurant kitchen and serving me breakfast.
In the craft area, we were too late to build a big cardboard house but the lady told Norah she could help them disassemble it for recycling and she was thrilled to take tape off the rods haha
They announced overhead that they would be starting a dance party on the stage… so naturally, Norah wanted in on that. She spent a good 30 minutes in her kid rave ha It’s fun to see her still enjoy little kid stuff because she’s right on that line where everything is too young. She even said “oh, this is like a little kid museum” haha yep, you’re just aging out of it ha

After all of those museums we needed a bit of a break. We headed back to the hotel for an hour and had a rest- I took a nap, Kegan listened to an audiobook and Norah surfed YouTube.

We took an Uber downtown since it was pretty cold to our reservations at Taste of Belgium- another Cincinnati local chain specializing in “taking American staples and Belgianizing them” . It’s Norah’s favorite because they have waffles ha

Pretzels with beer cheese
Steamed mussels
Loaded fries
Chicken and Waffles
Ham and cheese galette in a buckwheat crepe. None of us liked this at all.
Norah got a breakfast chicken biscuit with gravy and eggs
Norah and I shared a banana Nutella crepe for dessert
The Cortado coffee that led to Stupid Purchase #2. Ha

Kegan said, “you should try this coffee, it’s really good” so I did. And wow… it was like the best coffee I had ever had haha so I asked our waitress what brand of coffee they brew… she didn’t know. So on our way out I stopped at the bar area and asked the people there what they brewed. They pointed to a House Blend black bag with a Taste of Belgium label and told me that they did sell it. But when I asked if that’s what they use in the espresso machine- no that’s this Espresso Roast… also in a big 5 lb bag with a Taste of Belgium label. I asked if they sold that and they said they’d have to go ask the manager. Manager came out and was like …I mean, I can sell you that bag… but it will be expensive and it’s like 5 lbs… yeah. That’s fine, I’ll take it haha

So…. That’s how I ended up carrying a 5lb bag of coffee beans around for the evening 🤣

Our last item for Saturday night was at The Escape Game right next door. This was the last room we had never done that they had… Gold Rush. It was a fun one! Fairly easy on the difficulty level I think because we escaped in about 35 minutes

Sunday we checked out of our hotel and headed right back down to the waterfront to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center- a fantastic museum and cultural center dedicated to telling the story of slavery and the long road to freedom many slaves endured.

They have an actual “slave pen” recovered from a farm in Kentucky where slaves were held in shackles to keep them from running away.
Many exhibits and videos that are well worth a visit and watch. It was a very well done museum.

After we finished there, we headed to the northern suburbs to Blue Ash for our favorite midwestern Dim Sum at Grand Oriental Buffett where we met Kegan’s dad and stepmom for lunch.

It wasn’t their best showing of dim sum options but definitely a solid lunch and something I had been craving for quite a while.

After lunch, we headed over to the American Sign Museum- a quirky little museum dedicated to preserving nostalgic old signage from years passed.

Overall, it’s small but totally worth a stop! Tons of really cool vintage signs, with a history of each type of sign that had popularity over the years

We found ourselves with 2 hours until the Cincinnati Museum of Art closed, so we decided to trek on back downtown and see what we could squeeze in. We definitely did a speed tour and would love to spend more time there in the future.

They had a special exhibit of Georgia O’Keeffe photographs, but none of her famous works that I recognized. Overall we were underwhelmed with the special exhibit but maybe we just didn’t “get it”. That’s always a real possibility.
This was my favorite piece in the museum for a few reasons. This was painted in the 1940s- the height of American patriotism (and rightfully as we needed that to endure World War II and America was sacrificing at home to support the effort abroad) but this artist painted these “smug” daughters of the revolution members standing in front of Washington Crossing the Delaware (a painting painted in Germany by a German) , drinking tea in Chinese teacups, dressed in British fashion, claiming that America is the best. The irony and snark shows through vividly and this being from the 1940s just really seemed beyond it’s time. I thought about this painting and smiled a few times after leaving so I have declared it my favorite because it’s the one that stuck with me.

We were surprised by the volume of works by famous artists like Van Gogh, Picasso, Monet, Diego Rivera, and even a couple Paul Cézanne paintings- which was cool because I did a research paper on early Cubism in college and I know that he didn’t paint a lot of paintings… he was sort of the bridge between Impressionism and Cubist modern art.

A Picasso I hadn’t seen before- not quite the abstract style we usually think of from Picasso.
I loved this one! Very Ireland. I would have hung this one in my living room. I promise, I’ll take good care of it!

After art museum adventures, it was time for stupid purchases #3 with a trip to Jungle Jim’s for some groceries and fun international items before heading home. Jungle Jim’s is like a theme park for food. Usually, if you are looking for anything, you can find it there.

And even things you weren’t looking for- like an $80 blue ostrich egg from New Mexico lol

We usually look for a French cider that is very similar to one we loved in Normandy, fancy cheeses I’ve never had, some Irish staples like rashers and puddings and Swedish caviar spread for toast, along with more exotic produce like jackfruit, longan berries, trumpet mushrooms, and bok choy. This trip we had to keep it under control on fresh items because we only had three days until we are headed to Disney World! It’s a busy Spring ha.

Overall, a great weekend trip that we all enjoyed! Next trip will likely be Falls of the Ohio, Mammoth Cave and Big Bone Lick (because I have heard they have giant ground sloth fossils! Ha)


  1. Cathy Blair

    Awesome! I love your gypsy trips. It takes us one whole day just to go through the aquarium. Haha!

  2. Bob Hamilton

    Always a treat!

  3. Aunt Dinanny

    What a great time! I hiding in your suitcase when you go to Kings Island in April.

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